A burn is a damage to the skin caused by dry heat, chemicals sun or electricity while a scald is a burn caused by wet heat such as: hot liquids, to the surface of the skin. Burns can happen at home or workplace but most burns occur at home and are caused by scalding water, hot oil and grease, or hot foods. To prevent burn and scald injuries, you must ensure safety when handling hot water and foods
.Are you suffering from a burn? If it’s a first degree burn with mild swellings, redness and pain, you can treat it yourself but if the burns extend and cover a large surface area of the body, it is important to seek medical help to prevent further damage. Here are the different degrees of burns classification;
First degree burns It is superficial and causes local inflammation which is characterised by pains, swelling and tenderness of the skin. Sunburns are often categorized as first degree burns.
Second degree burns These burns are deeper with associated pain, redness inflammation and blistering of the skin.
Third degree burn These burns are deeper than the second and affect every area of the skin including the nerves, muscles and bones. Excision of the affected part is usually done.
Here are sure ways to care for your first degree burns;
- Stop burning process by moving away from the heat source causing burns to prevent further damage to the skin. If clothes are in flames, grab a blanket to smother the flames or it put out the fire with water.
- Remove wristwatch, necklace or hand bands from the affected area, as this can lead to constriction around the affected area if swelling occurs.
- Carefully place the affected area under cold running water for at least 20 minutes to preserve the integrity of the skin and reduce pain. Avoid the use of cold water or ice blocks on the skin to reduce skin damage. Also, avoid prolonged irrigation as it can lead to hypothermia (body temperature lower than 35 degrees). Chemical burns should be washed with running water longer than 20 minutes before seeing the doctor for evaluation.
- Burns are accompanied with pain from the affected parts as a result of damage to the skin surface which triggers painful signals to the brain. Mild analgesics like paracetamol and ibuprofen can help to reduce painful sensations. However, other strong analgesics can be given by the doctor according to the degree of pain felt by an individual.
- Blisters are likely to form over a burn or scald injury. Most people are into the habit or peeling the blisters which shouldn’t be. Blisters are nature’s protecting coating that prevents bacteria from getting into the injured surface. Take great care to avoid breaking blisters, if broken already apply mild antiseptic creams before covering with a dressing.
- Dead tissues on burn surface can be generally removed with soap and clean water after which mild light dressings are used to cover the burn site for fast healing.
- Burn injuries if deep are prone to infections, it is important to get tetanus booster shot if the individual is yet to be immunized in the last five years.
- Burn may be dressed with a topical antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin or Neosporin. Silver sulfadiazine topical drug is the preferred agent for most burns and is available over the counter in many local drug stores.
- Carrying out safety precautions is the best way to prevent burns of any degree. Preventive measures should be taken at home and at work place to prevent burn injury